What to do with an "ancient" computer?

OK, so it’s not that old. I have a 486 66Mhz windows 95 computer sitting on my floor. Still have to clear some old files off of it, but whenever I get my lazy butt into gear with that, I’ll have a computer to dispose of.

I kinda hate the idea of tossing it in the trash, the landfills around here are big enough as it is… Does anyone recycle computer parts? The case is basically plastic, that should be recycleable.

Or, another though, as it’s a reasonably functional machine, just slow by today’s standards, are there charities or anything that would take something like this? The monitors getting a bit flickery, but everything else, right down to the 14.4 fax modem and deskjet whatever series b&w printer works.

Any thoughts?


Try this website for a start.

(Old man voice) I remember my first computer…Heh heh heh. It only had a 3 inch screen and no built in RAM. And it ran on diesel.

There’s a whole category at Yahoo!. I got rid of mine through “Share the Technology,” myself.

You could also donate it to a school, that’s what i do with my old ones.

15 minutes… Damn you guys are quick! Thanks for the suggestions!

Yours had diesel? Why, back in my day, I had to power my computer by riding a bicycle connected to a generator. Only the really rich could afford those “new-fangled” devices powered by hamsters in their little excersise wheels.

Wait a sec… looking at the SDMB server, shaking head

I know my old public school system had a warehouse of hundreds of 386’s for students to take apart and reassemble. Ive always wondered, as a CS person, if it would be concievable to actually USE those computers for a very difficult computer problem by networking them together.

I know my old public school system had a warehouse of hundreds of 386’s for students to take apart and reassemble. Ive always wondered, as a CS person, if it would be concievable to actually USE those computers for a very difficult computer problem by networking them together. IE seti or something.

I have the exact same computer sitting in my basement.

I tried to give it away to charities/schools. I gave up when I personally showed up with it (in my car) at the local school and they snottily told me that they couldn’t use such an old piece of equipment.

OH YES! This was the exact same time I tried to get rid of an older TV. Worked perfectly fine but wasn’t ‘cable ready’. The exact same day I was snottily told by that school I tried to get rid of the TV at, I went to a place that takes donations of cash/appliances/furniture for familes in bad times. I was told that they wouldn’t accept it since it wasn’t cable ready. ???WTH??? I guess these people taking handouts have their standards – gotta have that cable without needing a cable box! (They wouldn’t take the computer either – too old)

To continue the rant/hijack rant, I donated clothes to a charity and had them returned with a snotty note saying that I shouldn’t donate clothes that I wouldn’t give to a best friend. ?? I wouldn’t give any of my clothes to a best friend!! WTH?? Yes, they were worn but I didn’t put anything with holes in them and they were all washed and clean before I donated them. I guess I was supposed to buy new ones and put those in.

I haven’t donated anything to a school/people-down-on-their-luck place since. I figure things can’t be very bad if no-one needs a perfectly good TV.

I did get rid of the TV by posting a note at the local college campus. The TV was gone within a day to a very grateful looking college student! :slight_smile:

A 486 will make a spiffy Linux router/firewall. I’ve made several for various home/home-office situations. The one in this office is an old IBM PS/2 486 running Slackware. It handles firewall and NAT for all the other machines in the house.

If you can get two NICs in the machine (one for the internal network, one for the outside connection), you can install a minimal version of any flavor of Linux and set up iptables or ipchains (depending on the linux version) to do firewall/NAT. As long as you skip the GUI and all the various server daemons you don’t need, the machine will be very fast. This provides you with a level of packet filtering that’s not available in many “personal firewall” products.

There’s also a floppy-based version of linux called LinuxRouter that’s specifically intended for this. With this, you don’t even have to install linux, just pop the floppy in a bootable drive and do a little config.

      • It is too old for a school. They have to be able to run current software, and that old PC can’t do that well. Probably most charities as well. And it’s not even that useful as a salvage machine: the hardware inside is too far out of date. As for recycling, it still ain’t worth it: the cost of sending it anywhere for recycling is more than it’s worth: a local thrift shop I went through recently had a working 486 PC with monitor and printer for sale for … $8.50.
        If you have somewhere that you can effectively do it for free, you can offer the computer for nothing, just be nice enough to say on the notice that it’s as old as dirt, but can be used to get on the internet. If you’re of a reasonably frugal mind it’s a bummer to trash something that still works, and this way somebody might get it that otherwise wouldn’t have one at all.
  • I have noticed that the local charities won’t take stuff anymore unless it’s basically brand-new. I don’t blame them for it, they know their business more than I do but if you go in and look around, everything looks basically new, just often in really bad taste.

What if you just want to dispose of the thing? The trash people don’t take them, and the hazardous waste collection doesn’t take them, either.

rataoskK: It’s a bummer but it often costs you $20-$30 to get rid of it. The local Government usually has places (they do here) in which you can drop it off, pay $20 and leave. Try getting rid of a microwave sometime…

Of course, a midnight run along a deserted road is a possibility… but I didn’t say that…only thought it!!

Open it up-------harvest the hard drive------install the hard drive in your current machine to increase your capacity


Give it to a friend wjo has limited capacity to give him/her more room.

Dump the rest!

Just a thought, if you end up trashing it, you might want to save some parts for “emergency” use if the ones on your current PC break down. For example, a CD-ROM drive broke on more current PC at work, and it was good enough to take the CD drive out of an old PC about to be trashed.

The graphics card might come in handy if your current one breaks. it may just be enough to allow you surf the web to buy a better replacement online.

Give it to a poor high school or college student who can’t afford a computer. I got rid of an 8088 that way a few years ago. It was good enough to write research papers using WordPerfect for DOS, which at least saves some poor soul from waiting in interminable lines in the campus labs to write papers during exam week. If the thing can run Windows, someone can use it.

I gave two of them to Goodwill Industries. They probably trashed them, but I got a $300 tax deduction for each one.

The hard drive from a 486 66 isn’t likely to be big enough to bother taking up a drive bay in a modern computer. Back then, 500 megs was big. Today, 2 gigs is small. The CD-ROM drive, if it has one, will still be serviceable for most purposes, though, and the floppy drive will still work. In fact, many machines don’t even come with floppy drives any more, so if you want one in your newer machine, the old one is probably your best bet.

You people are depressing me…This was my everyday computer until about two months ago, simply because I couldn’t afford another one. Still can’t for that matter, but a friend had a slightly newer (1998 or so) Mac sitting around that I’m using just for the 56k modem and faster overall speed - so no sense harvesting parts from an ancient PC for a slightly less ancient Mac…

And micco:

Sounds interesting, I think I understood about every other word… :wink:

Actually, my dad’s giving his old laptop to my mom to use, while he just got a new Dell… if there were a way to network them using my old PC that would be neat. But I can’t picture my mom standing for cables running all through her house, and I’m too damn lazy to learn how to do it anyway!

Anyway, thanks for the ideas… If nothing else, I can put it up on ebay: ULTRA-RaRe!!!@!@! vInTaGe!!!

Because that always works, right?

Um, I’m still using my 1992 Mac LCII. I maxed out the RAM at 12 MB (although the machine can only recognize 10 MB of that…) and put in a fat 120 MB hard drive! Yeah!

Anyway, coupled with my 14.4 kbps Prometheus ProModem and some 10-year-old unsupported software whose startup screen STILL wants me to dial up and register with a company that no longer exists, it makes an OK answering/fax machine.

I was doing this with mine until the CA electricity problems were I ditched this for a LINKSYS router box that used much less electricity than the old computer. These router boxes are about $80 now I probably made the purchase price back in a year from lowered electricity costs as I had that computer on 24/7.